There are many reasons why you may be looking for a new video conferencing program. Perhaps it’s the privacy concerns, security concerns, or just the whole misrepresenting encryption thing. Regardless of the reason, you know there has to be a better video conferencing solution available, and you’re on a quest to find it; Jitsi might be the one you’re looking for.
The free and open-source video-chat software is simple and has little to no setup time. It’s also encrypted, so it doesn’t collect your information. You won’t need an account or install anything to begin or join a meeting as a bonus. Oh, and it works in tile mode, too.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
1. How to Start a Call
It is rather simple to get a call started. Start by going to the Jitsi call page. Under the “start a new meeting” text, type in the name of your desired meeting. There’s one more thing: Make sure your meeting name is distinctive enough that it won’t be used.
Done! That’s all you need to start a call. You can add a password if you want to keep it private by clicking on the “Add password” button at the bottom.
2. How to Invite People to the Call
Because a video chat isn’t without additional participants, you must invite them to participate. Using Jitsi, sending your pals the meeting URL is as simple as possible.
To top it all off, your pals need only provide that link to their preferred browser (Jitsi suggests Chrome, but in my experience, Firefox works just fine), type the password, and they’re ready to go.
3. Tips and tricks
Jitsi is a free video-conferencing software with many bells and whistles found in commercial versions. You may screen share, record meetings, and switch to tile view right away.
When you’re finished with the call, click the four tiny squares in the bottom-right corner to switch to tile view. Click it again to return to normal view.
Jitsi has an option to blur your background automatically. This is a fantastic feature that can be used for various purposes, from hiding the fact that you haven’t cleaned your room from your mother to obscuring elements of your flat to strangers.
Select the three vertical dots in the bottom-right corner of your screen to enable the blur. Then, under “blend,” select “blur my background.”
Screen recording and sharing a YouTube video
Let’s assume you want to record a phone conversation. Perhaps you’re creating an original song for a digital talent contest and want to be able to look back on it after you’ve broken free from quarantine as a way of reminding yourself that this wasn’t a fever dream.
There are a few more steps, but Jitsi makes it simple. Tap the three vertical dots again to begin a screen recording and then pick “start recording.” After that, link your Dropbox account to the Jitsi call.
It’s also simpler to share a YouTube video with the call since no accounts are required. After clicking the three dots one last time, choose “share a YouTube video” and paste the URL into the field. Select “share” to send them an invitation to watch it along with you.
Raise your hand and chat
Video chats can be uncomfortable, as people are more likely to talk over one another by accident. With its “raise/lower your hand” feature, Jitsi provides a lighthearted solution.
If you click the hand icon in the bottom-left corner, other call participants will see a tiny hand icon appear in the upper-left corner of your video. It will let your fellow callers know that you have something important to communicate.
Perhaps you’d want to share an idea with everyone, but you don’t want to break up the conversation. That’s when the chatbox comes in handy. Just click the little hand icon to the right of the message field and choose a name for yourself. Then enter your text, hit return, and that’s it!
Oh, and please do remember to set a password on your call. It’s good to establish your own Jitsi URL; it makes meetings easier to share. However, it also allows randoms to guess the URL. A password prevents this.
Jitsi is a breeze to use. Its host of features makes it seem like a real competitor to Zoom, and it’s free with no call time restrictions. So the next time your sheltering-in-place, pals suggest a video chat, send them a Jitsi URL instead. You’ll never go back.